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Study improves estimation of the capacity of mangroves to reduce waves

Study improves estimation of the capacity of mangroves to reduce waves

An international research team has developed a study that presents a formulation that allows improving the estimation of the capacity of forests to mangrove swamp Rhizophora to attenuate the waves, which contributes to the protection of these ecosystems against the climate change.

The work, in which three researchers from IHCantabria, dependent on the University of Cantabria (UC), in Spain, have participated, is published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Marine Science’.

The study develops a new formulation of the drag coefficient based on a comprehensive review of the state of the art complemented by a field campaign, according to the UC in a statement.

Mangroves, located in tropical and subtropical regions, offer benefits such as carbon sequestration, habitat provision and coastal protection, but accurately assessing their ability to attenuate wave energy is challenging due to the complex interaction of these forests with the hydrodynamics to which they are exposed.

The UC recalls that previous research has carried out laboratory tests to estimate the wave attenuation produced by Rhizophora mangrove forests, providing formulations that relate its physical characteristics to wave conditions and giving rise to estimates of the drag coefficient.

However, these results have not been validated with field data and these studies do not consider the variability in the physical characteristics of the forest along its profile.

Now, through a meticulous field campaign, carried out in a Rhizophora forest in Costa Rica, the researchers characterized the structure of the mangrove and measured wave conditions for 23 continuous days.

Among the key findings is a 34% reduction in the height of the incident waves along the 63 meters of the forest monitored and the obtaining of the new formulation that allows estimating the protection capacity of these ecosystems.

The main author of the study is Fernando López Arias, who is linked as a predoctoral researcher to the Climate Risks, Adaptation and Resilience Group of IHCantabria, where his thesis directors and co-authors of the article also work: María Maza and Javier L. Lara.

The other co-authors are Felipe Calleja and Georges Govaere, members of the Maritime, River and Estuary Engineering Unit (IMARES) of the University of Costa Rica.

Arias highlighted the contribution of this study, because “In addition to advancing the understanding of wave attenuation in mangroves, it also provides a new tool to reliably quantify their coastal protection service, so that they can be considered as resilient solutions within coastal adaptation plans.” to the effects of climate change.”

This study, added this researcher, represents a step “significant” towards bridging the gap between laboratory experiments and field applications in mangrove research.

“By improving our understanding of the interactions between mangrove forests and flow, the results of this study feed the numerical tools we use to quantify the protective service that these ecosystems provide and thus support the implementation of nature-based solutions. that are based on this protection capacity”, concluded María Maza.

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Source: Gestion

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